The Healthiest Mindset for Thriving in The “Gig” Economy

Angel List, freelancing, future of marketing, Gig Economy, LinkedIn ProFinder, Marketing Strategy, media relations, Thumbtack, Upwork

Another title for this post could have been, a fearless manifesto for 5-star reviews & making money on UpWork, Thumbtack, LinkedIn Profinder, and

Okay, here we have my contribution to a healthy set of rules to follow with a go get ’em 😎 strategy for freelancers navigating the new gig economy.  Maybe you were laid off, looking for a new job, searching fo a way to make extra coin or you are having a hard time figuring out how to do so. These rules encompass what I have learned so far from helping others build their dreams.

It’s not all about making money. How boring. Set out to meet and work with interesting people. Network like hell, join Meetups, free workshops, seminars and lectures on Eventbrite. Strike up conversations. Don’t be shy, ask interesting questions. Take the focus off you. That will make you less self-conscious.

In the beginning, say yes to everything, thank you, Derek Sivers,  so you can say hell yeah to what you really want later.  Do it. The small, the tedious, the boring, the ridiculous, the uncool. Unless it’s really illegal or something that could hurt someone, say yes to every project you get.

Now work for five-star reviews. Client not 100% happy with the job you did? Need to put in another weekend to respond to their requests and questions and remake that thing you created for them? Do it. Do anything you can to score a five-star review on your profile from a satisfied human being. Be of service and do it well.

Give away your best ideas for free. All of them. Seriously. All of that research you did to help you become better at what you do. What you learned from the courses you paid for and all the takeaway lessons from the hours spent fine-tuning your skills. Write it, film it, document it and give it away.  Gracias James Altucher.

Slow down. Don’t rush. Create quality. Approach everything, every project, whether it is personal or professional with a grateful mindset. From doing your laundry in between UserTesting gigs to getting out for a mind-clearing bike ride between blog posts. How you do anything is how you do everything. Focus. Train. Practice. (Tim Ferriss)  

Don’t be rigid. Be flexible. Flexible about everything. How much you get paid, how long a project will take, who you choose to work with, your relationships and what you learn. Think like Bruce Lee. Be water, my friend. Be water.


Do not try to be a thought leader, expert, guru or God forbid, an influencer. Aim to be helpful and valuable instead. That’s it. Oh, and be yourself. Comb your hair first. Sometimes I forget to do that. 


All advice starts with “Be true to yourself”. Do what you’re passionate about. That’s hard to figure out. How about starting with being frank and honest. But do it in a kind way. Don’t be snarky and condescending, but be real. That is how you begin to remain true to yourself.

Take some time each day to feel your feelings. Don’t just work like a beast. For God sake, be vulnerable.   Don’t hold that shit in.  Being vulnerable will help you attract better clients and build stronger relationships with people. People like honest people. So, learn who you are and what you stand for. Self-awareness makes for an improved portfolio and body of work. I think Gary Vee agrees

When you land that project, take a moment to ask yourself – How can I do this in a better way? Reexamine your approach to projects. Learn how to be more productive, more efficient and more creative.  

Expose yourself to the best things that humans have done and then bring those ideas into your realm.   Steal ideas from the best. Blatantly rip them off, don’t forget to put your spin on it too.


Choose yourself, start hustling today, because honestly no one except your mom and dad or family you actually get along with really care.  The idea of security and safety in a job in 2017 and beyond is a false narrative. 

There are just a handful of old skills you can bring to the new economy. So everything that got you through your last job, well yeah, no. You need to build an arsenal of talents. Carry over the timeless and true but plan on learning something new every single day.

Don’t be afraid to ask for the money. If you are nervous and don’t feel quite confident about your value, ask for a little at first. Don’t worry, you will get tired of making peanuts for a living and competing with half the world that lives on $2.00 or less a day. Work, learn, build, upgrade. Repeat. Then ask for more. 

Sign up for all the new bank-disrupting ways to get paid. Stripe, Square, Shopify, PayPal, Venmo, ACH, Wire transfer. Hell, take cash when you can.

You are only as good as your last gig. Seriously. A review or case study older than a month is old news. Keep on working, building, creating, repeating. Share projects you are proud of on your website and social media. (Omit names and specifics when you have signed an NDA)

Hello there, I am Madeline Johnson,  a marketing and media strategist based in NYC, specializing in health and wellness. I love working with people who are creating products and services to help us look and feel our best. I also strive to be 1% better each day.  That’s it, I take baby steps because it’s hard and I suck at a lot of things, but I do it anyway. It seems sinful not to. My quest to make sense of it all Undisputed Origin.

Oh and I have a course for you. It’s only two hours long and it will help you understand how to be a better interview guest, collaborator, and freelancer, while scoring media and influencer coverage for your new company. It’s called The PR Playbook. If you are just starting out and on a budget, hit me up @marketcouncil on Twitter or @madelinemariejohnson on Instagram for a free promo code. I know what it’s like in the beginning. 

Instagram Basics for Business. A Tutorial

Brand Awareness, Digital Newsroom, Fitness Marketing, future of marketing, growth hacking, instagram, instagram insight, Instagram marketing, marketing on smart phones, Marketing Technology

In May of this year Instagram officially announced it’s new business tools, making it easier for startups to pay to reach their target audience.

Before you start buying Instagram ads, be sure to watch this quick and super helpful tutorial on how to get your business started on Instagram.

I am in the process of filming a full series on how to grow your fans, followers and customers on Instagram and as soon as it is ready, I will add it to

In the meantime, I thought I would share this first lecture with you so you can develop a great profile, bio, content and hashtag strategy.

If you have any questions, please comment on the video on my YouTube channel. I look forward to hearing from you.

Creating More Shareable Content

Brand Awareness, collaborations, Content management, Content strategy, Creative Marketing Campaigns, future of marketing, Social Content Management, social media marketing, social media statistics

In this video, I explain how to use the free version of software like Buzzsumo to find content that has been shared so you can get inspired to make your next video, article or post even that more viral.

Big news today. I was approved as a expert for Clarity links you with expert consultants to help you with your business.  You can connect with me here and we can schedule a call to help take your brand to the next level.

Best Practices for Consumer Engagement 2015

2015 trends, Brand Awareness, brand management, customer loyalty, Engaging Customer Service, Experiential Marketing, future of marketing


7 Things to Know Before Engaging with Your Customers

1. Customers are smart and they have a wealth of Google-able knowledge at their finger tips.

When engaging with them, give them crystal clear, honest and transparent feedback. 

2. Consumers are cynical, skeptical and have no fear posting or sharing their dissatisfaction.

Aim to educate, enlighten and inspire without spamming or turning them off with too much “marketing”. Try a tone that is humble, friendly yet confident about your unique value proposition.

3. They want answers quickly. In a fast-information world, we must respond quickly and swiftly to avoid a crisis, because information can be shared at the click of a mouse or press of a button.

In a 24/7 world of communication answer customer emails and Facebook questions everyday. Don’t make them wait.

4. Customers go to friends, family and other customers for information. It’s not easy to “interrupt” that conversation, especially when what they are sharing is misinformation.

According to Shoutlet, a social listening research firm claims 95% of millennials say that their friends are the most credible source of product information.

Do your best to gently bring them sources of information that they can trust. Building trust is the best thing you can do when connecting with your consumers. 

5. Consumers don’t trust branded content. Especially advertised branded content. Especially blatant “spammy” content.

As a brand you have to be very careful how you speak to consumers or you will turn them off. Review copy and messaging to make sure you aren’t just “selling” product but sparking a conversation and answering their questions.  

6. Consumers want to keep it simple. Your messages must be simple and easier to understand and important to them.

7. You also need to be exactly where they are, when they want you. On their phones, tablets and at every point-of-purchase. Preferably with a great offer. Convenience is everything. If you haven’t seen Dash from Amazon, check it out now.

device-amazon-dashAmazon Dash. Just brilliant.

How to Keep Your Cool

brand reputation, building brand trust, Cool Branding, creative collaboration, Creative Marketing Campaigns, customer loyalty, Earned Media, editorial know how, future of marketing, marketing muscle


MJMPR is here to serve it up. The universal ‘selfie culture’ pioneered by generation y-ers and millennials seems to be an invitation for big brand marketers to create campaigns based around the self portraiture phenomenon. Take for example, Colgate’s Visible White Selfie Campaign, advising viewers to post selfies to the teeth-whitening app with the tagline, “when you take a selfie, it should dazzle the world.” Albeit, having over 57 million hashtags on Instagram and having been officially coined Oxford Dictionary’s Word of the Year 2013, nothing is worse than a cheesy and overdone selfie campaign. What you need is to inject some coolness into your brand.

Collaborating & Listening to your Customers is Cool

A departure from this craze would be advantageous for big players who strive to emulate a cool image and avoid the common brand perception corporations unfortunately receive. Because let’s face it, corporations aren’t always portrayed as cool. Avoid corporate cluelessness by creating trends and not just following them. Think of Starbuck’s 3-year old launch of My Starbuck’s Idea in combatting a plethora of bad press. This crowdsourcing platform allows customers to contribute ideas for new products, give opinions/feedback and even see the status of their pending idea via their blog Ideas in Action. 

Empowering your Customers is Cool

Or think of Dove’s Selfie Beauty Campaign, although it utilizes the omnipresent ‘selfie’ it gives a much needed micro lens into this superficial behavior in efforts to redefine beauty. While remaining consistent with their mission statement of challenging the current beauty status quo, this Unilever-owned brand can emulate authenticity through their 2014 Sun Dance Festival debuted short regardless of their size and corporate structure.

Inspiring your Customers is Cool 

Remember Ben & Jerry’s Capture Euphoria Instagram Contest, where 127,000 users instagrammed their idea of euphoria with the tag #captureeuphoria and of those, 20 were chosen to be placed in print, billboards and a myriad of outdoor venue? A personal, fun and cool way to engage customers.

Ultimately, big brands can be cool if they stay true to their vision statements, avoid bland and cliché selfie campaigns and act progressively cool in their marketing schemes. Small brands often set examples for bigger brands in instituting cool. The difference in their approach is not regurgitating what they see, but rather reacting to it in a new way.

Here are some of our go-to sources we consult to feed our imagination and curiosity in igniting cool vibes:

WGSN – World’s Leading Forecaster 

Trendland Digital Magazine  

The Cool Hunter

How to Reign Supreme on Social Media

Brand Awareness, brand reputation, building brand trust, Cool Branding, future of marketing, online marketing, social media marketing, Star Powered PR, Successful Networking


1. Curate Valuable Content  Content that inspires, amuses, (even a good laugh goes a long way) informs or assists people. If it doesn’t have an instrumental purpose, trash it. Remember it’s not how much you post but how good you post. 

2. Once a Day Just Isn’t Enough  Imagine NPR, CNN, ESPN or BBC only reported once a day – and failed to repeat and cross-promote reports? Post away – all day and night. Yes, you will piss some people off but that will happen anyway.

3. Get Creative – It can’t be said enough how generic and easily anticipated the caliber of Instagram and social media posts have become. The ability to stand out has become that of a science. Think of your social media as a gallery, curate effectively.

4. Let’s Get Visual – According to Citrix, nearly “half of all users have reposted a photo or video they have found online” while 63% of Social Media is composed of images. Targeting a youth culture with an appetite for pictures and distaste for traditional paragraph-styled articles may be a tricky one (Hence, the laundry list phenomenon pioneered by Buzzfeed). Think: images are bait and content is the catch. 

5. No Pushing – Your followers don’t want to feel they are being pushed products 24-7-365 (at least, not explicitly). A brand’s voice should remain authentic and ring true. Your followers can weed through the bull and certainly aren’t afraid to unfollow you or worse, tell you.

6. Give Credit Where Credit is Due – Feeling really inspired by a photo? Do your due diligence and source the photo, even shout-out to the artist’s work. Building relationships via social media increases followers and makes you less intimidating and more approachable.

7. Be Playful and Professional – It’s a balancing act, teetering between relaxed and corporate. You don’t want to come off as too casual or too bland. But don’t be afraid to tweet a #flashbackfriday of your brand’s first campaign or #ootd an intern’s brand-on outfit. Versatility and being relatable in social media always wins.

8. Surface the Unknown – Be curious. Think inside and outside the box. Consult what’s trending on Google News. Alternate news updates with stimulating tech articles like Wired Magazine’s discovery of a “Tool that Boosts Your Privacy by Opening Your WiFi to Strangers.

9. Be Thoughtful  Create a social media calendar. Avoid posting just for the sake of posting. Don’t be lazy and do your research. And specifically, don’t post anything you yourself wouldn’t personally read.

10. Know When to Weigh In – Nowadays, everyone’s a critic and a comedian. It’s important to know when to stand up or sit down. If it’s within your industry and valuable, consider it imminent. If you have to question it, don’t even think about posting it.

Mobile Strategy for Luxury Beauty Brands

Beauty pr, Email Marketing, future of marketing, marketing plans, mobile app marketing

A Mobile Strategy for Luxury Beauty

Stepping up your mobile strategy will allow you to reach your consumers during what marketers call the “path to purchase” or what is considered  your customers’ “voyage to value”.

It starts with awareness – what is that new fragrance from Chanel called?

then moves to trial – I received a Birchbox of samples of the newest lip and eye shades!

with a persuasive “call to action”now that is a Sephora beauty deal worth receiving.

and finally, being there when she needs you most – the touch point of loyalty – I have to buy that new age-defying eye serum right now!

Your website should be optimized  for mobile (iPhones, Androids and tablets across the board) to capture your customer at all phases of her purchasing journey. When will she finally click to the cart?  It could be today, it could be next month – but you better be ready for her, where ever she is.

Here, a few tips on how to develop a smart mobile strategy for your beauty brand –

  • Study your audience purchasing habits – including media consumption patterns. Is it TMZ? or
  • Ask the question -What does your consumer want out of a mobile offering? Price comparisons? product reviews? QR code scanning?
  • Understand whether your product is suitable to mobile marketing or actual mobile commerce.
  • Consider that consumers are using more than one device to search and shop – tablet, phone, desktop and laptop. Make sure your brand looks and performs well on all platforms.

And. . . .

  • When it comes to designing your customer’s user experience – maximize utility and minimize clutter. It shouldn’t  be difficult to find the “buy now” button.
  • Realize there will be some consistent messaging and content across all platforms as well as specific information to each device/platform. Think it through. A “thoughtful” mobile app is a better experience.
  • Some of the “content” you create should tout your brands’ goods and services while other information might be more peripheral – and not even seem to related to the brands’ core offerings, but more to the lifestyle of the consumer.

Brand Ambassadors

Beauty pr, future of marketing, industry representation, Uncatergorized

We are in the midst of deciding whether to host our own blogger event, where we will launch our client’s newest products to a group of influential bloggers (selected for their quality content, following and engagement) or hire a single brand ambassador to host the event and invite her own ring of blogging buddies. Either way, there is no promise of actual reviews. We are looking for earned media coverage, testimonials from enthusiasts – not paid for banner ads.

If you are planning your own blogger event, in hopes to get the word out about your brand, consider the following –

Quality not Quantity of Bloggers

It seems that some top quality bloggers take offense when they attend an event and those with less klout are also invited. According to industry experts, it’s a bit of an insult, so hand-pick your invitees carefully.

Evidentially, a smaller event with fewer blogger guests can be more beneficial than inviting the whole online party to a fun-filled entertaining hour of good times and cool new launches.

Brand Ambassador Fees

This advice is coming from a blogger who has purposely worked her ass off for five plus years to earn friends and followers and has her own “agent” while asking for $2K + for a sponsored video about your new product launch.

Get Creative

Influential bloggers get invited to the same events that reporters, editors and journalists attend. In the cosmetic industry, that can mean up to 15 invitations to new product launches a week. Get creative when selecting your location, entertainment and experts, so you can stand out from the crowd.

Membership Program Marketing in 2012

future of marketing, Marketing Mavens, Measureable Marketing, Uncatergorized

Sometime last month we were sitting around the conference room table with a team of executives brainstorming ideas to help their partners increase sales and customer loyalty. One of those in the room with a short-term thinking “mind-set” brought up the “fact?” that in her experience she found that customers who signed up for gym memberships would continue to pay for the membership, even if they didn’t work out at all,  for an average of 14 months after signing up.  The charge would just appear on their cards and it wasn’t until over a year later, these member customers would wake up to the fact that they were pouring money down the drain.

This “experienced” professional was proposing this membership model as a revenue driver and was asking the team to think short-term while charging customers a membership each month – on top of the service price they are already paying, with the thought that these same customers would forget they signed up and continue to pay the $9.99 a month on their cards for the year to come.

This is the same type of greed-induced strategy that got our economy where it is today. Now, it’s a good thing that customers everywhere are all the wiser and are completely aware of scams like this one proposed.

This kind of thinking also reminds us of the recurring charges that customers get stung with (and that web companies are under investigation for) which you can read about here.

Membership Programs in 2012

Your membership program has to bring real value to the table in order to even appeal to new customers and keep existing customers loyal, especially in this day and age. The real fact is, customers are too smart and watching every penny they spend. Membership program enrollment is down and there have been three major reasons for this decline – economic changes, demographic shifts, and technology.

Now, new technologies can enhance a great membership experience -from social media platforms that celebrate customers who promote your business to data mining tools that help target your customers, and help keep them coming through the doors.

If you are considering adding a membership program to your business, think about what you have to give to attract and retain customers. Consider your business model, your customer’s purchasing behavior and think along the lines of –

  • Programs that offer real value and no risks
  • Possible discounts with every purchase and no restrictions
  • Cash prizes and upgraded shipping
  • Special savings that translate to 15% to 35% off retail prices
  • Exclusive promotional offers void of black out dates and messy disclaimers
  • VIP membership events
  • First dibs on new products, appointments and services
  • Product guarantees and free offers
  • Upgrades and same product/service add ons
  • Co-marketing programs with synergistic businesses

In other words, your membership program must contain a well-defined value proposition that resonates in today’s environment.

Smart companies think like  and American Express –

  • Consider not charging a membership fee
  • Offer valuable services like free overnight shipping and
  • expedited returns

Once you have developed a valuable membership program you must consider how much you have to spend on spreading the word (marketing the program)- through e-mail, newsletters, in-store signage and website updates as well as social media platforms. Your employees should also be ambassadors for the program and able to relay its value to customers. This happens with proper training and real support.

Your Best 2012 Marketing Strategy

Creative Marketing Campaigns, Engaging Customer Service, future of marketing, marketing muscle, Uncatergorized, word of mouth campaigns

Is your customer service program ready for 2012? Check out Moxiesoft’s Multichannel Communication Capabilities Best Practice Assessment. This is a quick quiz to see if your brand’s marketing strategy is ready to go beyond the call of duty to create the ultimate customer experience. Why?

Because consumers expect instant gratification Social media tools like Twitter and Facebook create a sense of urgency when it comes to resolving customer issues.  The top three social media activities that most companies have yet to even master are: providing links to relevant content, providing reactive support when customers complain, and integrating social media marketing with other marketing channels. In 2012, brands will be doing much more and social media will become absorbed into the very fabric of companies that are going to win with tools like Foursquare, LooptGowalla,  Coupon Cabin, Dibsie  and Marketmesuite  to name a few.

Mobile Marketing Mania

As smart phones continue to increase in popularity, it will become the main method of communication. This makes complete sense, as mobile purchases provide services at a lower cost per interaction and deliver tailored offerings to users.  Check out Speech Cycle , their customer relationship enrichment portfolio integrates smart phones with speech application software for faster and more cost-effective solutions.

Smart marketing strategies + superb customer service = best business practices. Small business owners used to be afraid that an unhappy customer would tell ten people. Now, through social media sites, they can tell thousands. On the flip side, happy customers can be your brand ambassadors and your biggest source of new business. Consumers believe what their peers say about your company more than they believe any of your own paid marketing and advertising.

You can find out exactly where your customers are talking about your company and what they are saying. Following your customers on social media platforms and websites is critical for engaging them and answering questions about your offerings.

More self-service, everywhere. Sometimes, customers want to get in and out as quickly as possible. Think about how many self-service kiosks have been added to airports and mass market retailers like Home Depot, Walgreens and CVS. Retailers should consider the fastest option for frantic customers.

Personalized email and text auto responses have become an expectation. We are training customers to actually expect a welcome email, thank you email and special promotions from time to time.

Retail stores are much more experiential and smart customer service expectations are high. Customers react to entertaining demonstrations, live music, tastings, new merchandise and friendly service. Your 2012 marketing plan should include a few, especially to help boost sales during traditionally slower times.

When it comes to the web, it’s all about self-service to live-service transitioning. Real-time chat has practically become a requirement in order to help your customers with questions and to place orders. What to look for in 2012 and beyond –  video chat for an even more personalized touch.

Forget about window shopping anymore, companies like Milo help customers track the products they want from their phone. Customers will no longer come into your store to see if you have a product. Milo shows customers what’s in-stock, where it is and how much it costs at that very moment. They also offer detailed product information and user reviews, so customers can be confident they are getting a product that fits their needs.